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    Saybrook University
  Jan 18, 2021
2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
2017-2018 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Psychology, Psychophysiology Specialization, Ph.D.

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Specialization Coordinator: Richard Sherman, Ph.D.

Psychophysiology is the branch of psychology centering on the physiological bases of human psychological processes. It is the study of the biological bases of behavior among humans. Applied psychophysiology is the subspecialty of psychophysiology which uses knowledge of the biological bases of various behaviors in conjunction with various psychological techniques to help people optimize their behaviors. Applied psychophysiologists are psychologists who develop and use psychological interventions based on such areas as behavioral genetics, hormonal influence on behavior, individual differences in perception, and abnormal physiological patterns to assist clients to recognize and alter problems caused by these biological underpinnings. Common psychophysiological intervention techniques include biofeedback, relaxation training, entrainment, hypnosis, and many others.

Applied psychophysiology focuses on the amelioration/treatment and prevention of disease, as well as creation of optimal functioning patterns in education, sports, and business through teaching people techniques for recognizing and correcting abnormal physiological levels of function and responses. Our clinical concentration or practice focuses on the amelioration / treatment and prevention of disease through teaching people techniques for recognizing and correcting abnormal physiological levels of function and responses. Our non-clinical concentration focuses on teaching clients to function optimally in such environments as the work place, sports, and school. The field has a long history of making major contributions to education and healthcare in both treatment and prevention arenas. For instance, relaxation techniques are widely recognized as being effective in both the treatment and prevention of headaches.

Residential Requirements and Content Delivery

This specialization is designed to be offered mainly via distance education supported by two Residential Conferences (RC) and attendance at the annual meeting of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology (AAPB) per year. The distance courses are typically provided through pre-recorded audiovisual lectures available through the online learning platform and student - teacher web conferences after each lecture. Many of the courses include laboratory or hands-on training that take place (a) at Saybrook’s Residential Conferences (RC); (b) during the annual meetings of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology (AAPB) which meets once per year in various parts of the United States (this is the field’s professional organization); and (c) about seven hours of real-time mentoring via the web.

Prerequisites for Ph.D. in Psychology; Specialization in Psychophysiology:

Every student entering the specialization must fulfill the following prerequisites:

(a) Certification in Basic Life Support (CPR)

(b) The equivalent of an undergraduate course in general biology

(c) The equivalent of an undergraduate course in general psychology

Students accepted into the program who lack any of these prerequisites must complete them during the first semester.

Psychophysiology Proseminar:

PH 500A General Biology: 1 credit


PH 500B General Psychology: 1 credit

Each portion of the Psychophysiology Proseminar is charged at a rate of one credit but credits completed during the proseminar do not count toward the specialization. Students may be required to complete an Academic Writing course during their first semester in the program. The Specialization Coordinator and/or Department Chair will make this determination at the time of admission into the program.


The Ph.D. in Psychology; Specialization in Psychophysiology combines online learning for lecture courses, in-person laboratory experiences, seminars, and training experiences for a total of 85 credits. Students who have already taken graduate courses at a regionally accredited school may be eligible to transfer up to 18 credits for previously completed courses deemed equivalent to those in the Psychophysiology specialization. Equivalency of any of these courses will be determined during an individual review of each student’s transcripts.

In addition to transfer credits, students who took psychophysiology courses through Saybrook’s continuing education (CE) program will receive equivalency for these courses as long as they complete all requirements for the doctoral versions of the courses.. Students who have taken more than 18 credits of equivalent coursework at other institutions may not have to repeat these courses. Rather, they can substitute them for additional psychophysiology electives. Students who completed the M.A. in Psychology; Specialization in Psychophysiology do not repeat those courses also required for the doctorate and get full credit for them toward the doctorate.

Each student completes a doctoral dissertation of publication quality, based on original study under the guidance of a committee consisting of a faculty chair from within the specialization and at least two doctoral level members who are subject matter experts. The program is designed so students work on their dissertations simultaneously with taking didactic courses.

Students must take courses PH 1500A, 507, 510, 512, and RES1006 before taking any others unless they are given credit for having taken equivalent courses elsewhere. All students will begin seminar PH 572 as soon as they enter the program. The order in which advanced courses are taken is largely at the student’s discretion but should be discussed with the advisor. The degree completion time for a full time student following the default course sequence will average 5-7 years. Any breaks in enrollment may impact completion time.

Total Credits: 86

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